Hanna Olsson

hanna olsson, dignity 2016, response based practice, sex workers rights in sweden

Hanna Olsson studied sociology, communication and marketing before leading a program on the new Swedish abortion law, in 1975, for the National Board of Health and Welfare. By tying the abortion issue to the analysis of gender and sexuality in society, and using unconventional methods such as theatre, Hanna reached out to young people, to open dialogue.

Hanna became Chief Secretary in a Swedish government investigation of “prostitution” from 1977 to 1980, leading to a radical new approach (implemented in 1999) in which the “buyer” was prosecuted, not the “seller”.

Moving out of bureaucracy, Hanna then trained as a psychotherapist and supervisor. She gave up her psychotherapy practice in the early 2000’s but continues as a supervisor and consultant with a primary interest in addressing men’s violence against women and children.

In 1990, Hanna published a highly acclaimed book about the legal procedures surrounding the 1984 murder of a young woman in prostitution, Catrine da Costa. The book incited an intense discussion that continues today. For this ground breaking work, Hanna was awarded an honourary Doctorate at Umeå University in 1992.

A leading feminist in Sweden since the 1970’s, Hanna and now enjoys working as a writer and supervisor, bringing the history of the Swedish women’s movement to younger activists, including Men for Gender Equality.